Dr. John Salchert ’61 Supports Scholarship to Promote the Pursuit of Primary Medicine

Dr. John Salchert, a 1961 University of Minnesota Medical School graduate, was inspired by his childhood doctor to pursue a career in medicine. Often sick as a child, including a battle with polio, his doctor would make home visits, even during World War II when doctors were scarce and he was busy seeing as many patients as he could. 

“Our family doctor was somebody that I really admired. I talked to him about going to medical school and after I applied, he said he had sent a letter for me, and that must have helped,” Dr. Salchert laughed. “That’s the kind of person I wanted to be — a person of service.”

At the U of M Medical School, Dr. Salchert began on the psychiatry track, followed by OB/GYN, and after his internship and residency, landed on his speciality: family medicine. His previous experiences helped to shape him into a versatile primary care physician and he conducted everything from physical examinations to surgeries during his time in practice. 

“I enjoyed the relationships,” Dr. Salchert said. “Your patients became your friends, and your friends became your patients. When you’re in solo practice, you get to know people very well and develop a level of trust. That was one of the more fulfilling parts.”

Dr. Salchert was also involved in politics. This interest began while he was attending the Medical School, but his involvement increased in 1966 when he ran for and won an open seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he served until 1974. At the time, this was a part-time job, so he was able to continue running his practice simultaneously.

“My patients were patient with me,” Dr. Salchert said. “They understood that I was providing a service. I made my rounds in the morning, and then the legislative met in the afternoon. I was fortunate enough to have my practice in downtown Minneapolis, which was about 10-15 minutes from the capital, so I could just whip over.”

He was a part of the committee of health and welfare and was chairman of the subcommittee on nursing homes. He considers his work on nursing home regulation policies and the Certificate of Need Bill to be his most significant work while in the state legislature.

Today, Dr. Salchert gives to the Medical School Future Physicians Scholarship to provide financial support to students who feel that the expenses of medical school prevent them from pursuing a career in primary medicine. 

“At that time, you could get loans that were reasonable and tuition was more affordable,” Dr. Salchert said. “We made it work. Nowadays, it is so much more expensive and we need to help students that do not come from privileged families and would like to go to medical school. The pressure to pay their bills creates an excess of people going into super specialties and that crunches the number of people who go into primary medicine.”

He recently celebrated his 60th Medical School reunion via Zoom with 15 other graduates.

“What impressed me was that essentially everyone at the reunion has done outreach in some form,” Dr. Salchert said. “I think whatever influence moved us to do that came from the University. We were given the support to be our own person and encouraged to be of service to others.”

The Class of 1961 and 13 others will celebrate their reunions in person in October 2022. For more information about Medical School reunions, visit https://med.umn.edu/alumni/events/alumni-celebration. For more information about how you can make a gift that supports medical students interested in primary care or otherwise, contact development officer Elsa Scheie at escheie@umn.edu.